Michael Marinelli had posted some questions about nailing a profile down with the Kenya Gatomboya AB that we had up on shrub just a little bit ago. After we traded some comments and emails here and there, Michael sent me a sample from a batch he had roasted according to some of the profile conclusions we had reached. Along with the coffee he sent a copy of the roast log that he was keeping. I was quite impressed with his roast profiling and the cup was really nice, showcasing the super creamy body that that coffee could have. I thought it would be great to ask some of my roasting questions and Michael was very gracious in sharing. Enjoy!
1. How long have you been roasting, and on what equipment?
I'm a newbie. I just launched my company and had no prior experience roasting. I began last year by taking the advanced roasting class at Boot Coffee and left there really fired up to start (even though I didn't yet know how to use my own machine). I bought the small IR machine from Diedrich and have spent this year learning the ins and outs of roasting great coffee.
2. What's your approach to roasting a coffee?
I could answer this question in many ways and some of them make me chuckle to myself because at times it's a leap of faith. Overall though, I look at the approach as an iterative circle:
understand key bean characteristics
classify coffee into a profile strategy
roast with meticulous data collection
cup and consider improvements
adjust profiles and re-roast
repeat until I'm happy
With so many time demands I see how it can be common to spend time on “the trees” and forget about “the forest”. I have so much to learn about roasting that it's important for me to not only think about the details of a particular coffee but afterward step back and try to understand how that coffee contributes to my overall roasting knowledge and roasting strategy.
3. What made you select this coffee and what was your approach to roasting it?
Actually I was turned onto Shrub by the folks at Boot who said I could not go wrong with your coffees. So I looked at what you had at the time, what gaps I had in my portfolio, and selected this coffee based on your comprehensive description. I started off with a “safe” roast profile and it did no justice to the coffee. It reacted differently than anything I had roasted before so I called for help and Chris came to the rescue with tips that worked. I continue to tweak the roast; yesterday I was so excited because I cupped my last roast and it's just so freaking good! I credit that to my ability to find the key that unlocks the greatness of the coffee, not that I made the greatness.
4. What has been the reaction from your customers to this coffee?
The reaction is really positive. I am filled with joy when a customer gets excited about something I roasted that I'm proud of. That may sound corny but as a startup founder it's new to me and very rewarding.
And here are the original comments and dialog: http://www.coffeeshrub.com/shrub/coffee/kenya-nyeri-ab-gatomboya